TUJA Festival (Tudengijazz) holds the distinction of being Estonia’s oldest jazz festival. Established in 1982, the festival is set to celebrate its 42nd edition from the 5th to the 9th of March 2024.
Throughout its extensive history, the festival’s unique focus on student jazz musicians has set it apart in Europe. The festival has consistently aimed to provide young musicians with a platform to showcase their original compositions, exciting arrangements, and musical talents to the audience. Today, TUJA/Tudengijazz brings together young talents from Estonia and various parts of Europe, not only for performances but also to foster international cooperation and build new connections.
Historically, TUJA has held great significance in Estonia. The festival originated during the Soviet era when jazz music was publicly forbidden. In spite of this, determined music students worked tirelessly to bring their dream festival to life. This mini-festival, held nearly forty years ago, served as an important source of direction and inspiration during a challenging time. It’s heartening to see that the festival continues to fulfill its mission to this day.
Over the years, TUJA has hosted performances by nearly all the top jazz musicians of today, as well as many emerging jazz groups. Notable artists include Jaak Sooäär, Tanel Ruben, Oleg Pissarenko, Villu Veski, Kadri Voorand, Raul Sööt, Raivo Tafenau, Virgo Sillamaa, Siim Aimla, Sofia Rubina, Joel Remmel, Laura Põldvere, Abraham’s Cafe, Janno Trump, Innersound, Jana Kütt Group, Johannes Laas Quintet, Linda Kanter Quartet, Rita Ray, and others. The organizing team has consistently been led by accomplished Estonian musicians and event planners, including Anne Erm, Villu Veski, Eero Raun, Reigo Ahven, Kristjan Mazurtchak, Anett Tamm and Maris Aljaste.
Since 2011, Jazz Estonia has been the official organizer of TUJA. Jazz Estonia’s mission is to develop and promote Estonian jazz music both locally and internationally. The organization arranges concerts, thematic events, gathers and disseminates information about Estonian jazz music and musicians, encourages collaboration between musicians and various organizations, and seeks funding for the development of jazz music. Founded in 2004, Jazz Estonia has been a member of the European Jazz Network since 2006.
The Estonian Jazz Awards, established in 2020, celebrate exceptional jazz musicians, events, and festivals in Estonia for the 14th time. These awards are presented in five categories: Jazz Musician of the Year, Young Jazz Talent, Jazz Ensemble of the Year, Jazz Composer of the Year, and Jazz Promoter of the Year. In 2020, the Jazz Promoter of the Year title was bestowed upon TUJA Jazz Festival.
The festival’s mission is to perpetuate its longstanding tradition of supporting the high-level development of Estonian jazz, nurturing the new generation of young musicians, and fostering international collaboration within the field.